From Rio de Janeiro, son of former Voice of America chief invents new cold war narrative.
by Brian Mier
Multi-millionaire Fox News host Tucker Carlson, son of former Voice of America and USIA chief Dick Carlson is spending the week broadcasting his popular program, Tucker Carlson Tonight, from Rio de Janeiro. During his first broadcast on June 27, he made it clear what the goal is: to rally support of US casual news consumers behind neo-fascist President Jair Bolsonaro’s reelection campaign.
His first guest, on Monday, June 27, was former US embassy economic adviser turned Bolsonaro aid, Filipe Martins. Martins, an alleged white supremacist and disciple of Bolsonaro’s late astrologer/guru Olavo de Carvalho, credited as one of the interlocutors between the Bolsonaro family and Steve Bannon, was given 4 minutes of airtime on the most popular news program in the United States to slander former President Lula, associating him with “$2 trillion of corruption”, as Carlson added, “and he went to jail for it”.
The fact is, Lula was unjustly imprisoned during the 2018 election season over incredibly flimsy allegations of an upgrade to a $600,000 apartment from an apartment that his wife had been paying monthly installment on for years, but he was later proven innocent. Not only was his conviction annulled by the Supreme Court for illegal forum shopping and judicial bias, subsequent attempts by prosecutors in the Brasilia district court that was ruled to actually have jurisdiction over the annulled Lava Jato convictions were immediately thrown out by the judge for lack of evidence. As in the United States, defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty in Brazil, and Lula has not been proven guilty of any corruption allegation.
Meanwhile, there are corruption investigations underway against President Bolsonaro, his sons, his ex-wife, his current wife, his mother-in-law and his grandmother-in-law. Furthermore, multiple Bolsonaro cabinet ministers have been forced to resign due to corruption scandals, including his 3rd Education Minister Milton Ribeiro, who took office after his second education minister, Abraham Weintraub, fled to Florida to avoid criminal prosecution. Innocent until proven guilty applies here too, but unlike Lula’s case, these investigations are ongoing. Any serious journalist, therefore, would have to at least mention them in the context of mentioning any past corruption investigation against Lula.
Martins has been credited for introducing international white supremacist symbolism to the Bolsonaros
The main purpose of Martins’ conversation with Tucker Carlson, however, appears to have been to convince Americans that Bolsonaro, who is currently being blamed for opening the door to genocide against indigenous peoples and the assassination of former New York Times and Washington Post journalist Dom Phillips, should be reelected because he is a staunch ally to the US in the new cold war against China, whereas Lula will side with China against the US.
China has been Brazil’s most important trade partner since 2009, as US economic influence has waned throughout Latin America. Under Presidents Lula and Dilma Rousseff, Brazil maintained Brazil’s long tradition of non-alignment in US geopolitical conflicts, most famously when Lula refused to support the invasion of Iraq telling George Bush, “my war is against hunger.”
When Bolsonaro was elected, due to his family’s relationship with Steve Bannon and vocal racism against Chinese people on the social media accounts of his sons and some of his cabinet ministers, many expected him to leave BRICS and cut trade relations with China. It didn’t happen. Instead, China increased imports of Brazilian soy, with an increase of 251% during the first quarter of 2022 alone. Likewise, since Bolsonaro took office, Chinese state petroleum companies have been the overwhelmingly largest buyer of Brazil’s offshore petroleum reserves. Essentially, after China threatened to cut soy imports, Bolsonaro fired his two biggest anti-China ideologues, Foreign Affairs Chancellor Ernesto Araujo and Education Minister Abraham Weintraub, and completely revamped his government’s position on China, most recently praising Brazil’s “strategic relationship” with China to Xi Jinping at the BRICS Summit last week. Furthermore, Bolsonaro disobeyed repeated requests by the US State Department and visited Vladimir Putin this February, calling Brazil-Russia relations “a perfect marriage”, and has refused to join the NATO sanctions campaign.
The fact of the matter is, no matter who is elected in October, Brazil will maintain its neutral stance in the new cold war and will not engage in sanctions against China or Russia or any other geopolitical enemy of the US. The reason for this is that takings sides against important trade partners does not make rational economic sense to Brazil. Suggesting otherwise, as Glenn Greenwald’s colleague Tucker Carlson is doing, is just another example of Fox News bullshit.
Update (6/30/2022): Hear author Brian Mier talk about this article, as well as Tucker’s 6/30 interview with President Bolsonaro, in Eoin Higgens’ podcast, Flashpoint, here.